Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fleshing out the Obama doctrine...

I have maintained for some time that there is now a modern corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. This "Obama Doctrine" will emphasize the antipodes, and more specifically Latin America and Africa.

Obama's selections thus far for the Treasury (and I am of the opinion that Larry Summers will be Fed Chair) and other cabinet positions reinforce my opinion that this is a pragmatic administration.

Realpolitik is back (if indeed it ever left). The results from the G20 "coordination" meetings will be telling on this account.

Thus this article is corroborative evidence for the above thoughts:
Medvedev faces hard sell in Latin America
By Simon Romero, Michael Schwirtz and Alexei Barrionuevo
Friday, November 21, 2008

When President Dmitri Medvedev planned his forthcoming trip through Latin America, Russia seemed poised to present one of the most visible challenges in years to U.S. influence in the region.

With oil prices high, Russia was flush with cash and planning a range of measures, from helping Venezuela build a nuclear reactor to strengthening military ties with Cuba, a Cold War ally of the Soviet Union.

But when Medvedev reaches the region next week, he will find it drastically altered by events - and in some cases, less receptive to his overtures. Plunging oil prices and the global financial crisis, which have hammered Russia particularly hard, have raised questions about Russia's reliability as an economic partner, while Senator Barack Obama's victory in the presidential race has raised hopes throughout Latin America of a new era of improved relations with the United States.

In this rapidly changing landscape, most Latin American countries are recalibrating their political interests, frustrating Russian efforts to deepen regional ties as China did in the last decade.

"Russia's elites, including President Medvedev, look on China's rising diplomatic and economic successes in Latin America and in Africa with envy," said Stephen Kotkin, the director of Russian studies at Princeton University. "They also perceive an opportunity, much exaggerated, to send the U.S. a message in its supposed backyard."

But throughout the region, Medvedev faces a hard sell. In Cuba there are lingering suspicions about Russian intentions, after the Cuban economy collapsed when the Soviet Union withdrew in the 1990s, as well as a reluctance to alienate the incoming Obama administration that might push to end the trade embargo.

Brazil, Latin America's largest country, which also places a high priority on relations with an Obama administration, wants to engage Russia not as a source of weapons or military assistance but as an equal partner.

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